Here is something I love about Jesus: He is not self-righteous.
If you’ve been around church for any length of time, then these verses will likely be familiar to you:
“Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to His disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'” -Luke 5:29-32
I’m going to be honest- lately I have felt sad and heartbroken over attitudes and actions within the church that I perceive to be self-righteous. But then I read this and remember that while we humans may be prone to pride and self-righteousness, Jesus never is. There is absolutely no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5). While I love the church and intend to belong to a community of believers until the day I die, I have to remind myself that it is Jesus I’m following, not the institution of the church.
I need to pause here and point out that I, too, am susceptible to self-righteousness. My sinful heart is all too prone to create an “us” and “them” mentality, smugly satisfied when I find myself on what I perceive to be the higher moral ground. It makes me sick to admit that because I never ever want that to be true of me, but that is human nature and I know that I am no exception.
I want to be transformed into the character and likeness of Jesus, not of our culture. I want to look more like the One who gladly ate with sinners and called us into His Kingdom and loved us to the point of sacrificing His own life. There is absolutely no room for self-righteousness or moral superiority in a heart that mirrors Christ’s.
While I continue to wrestle with prevailing attitudes in Christian culture and in my own heart, I never want to forget who it is that I’m truly following. Because, “you see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6,8)